In part one of this series, we took a look at three of the leading models among ediscovery programs: in-house teams, all-in-one providers, and specialized providers. In this second blog, I will detail how to look under the hood of your top solutions and help you match what is available in the market to your needs.
In a perfect world, we would all require the same solution. There would be no deviation in workflow or a vendor’s impact to your review costs. Alas, data types, volumes, and data storage methods vary across industries, leaving room for specialization among providers. For example, the financial sector has to search huge strings of Bloomberg chat files but a healthcare provider has to manage large amounts of redactable HIPPA information. Therefore, both of these companies will have a larger average amount of personally identifiable data requiring redaction than technology companies. It is important to select a vendor that is distinctly skilled to service your organizational and industry-specific needs. The design of their solution plays a significant role. Perhaps they have scale limitations, platform requirements, or mismatched service levels that do not align with your existing needs.
Some organizations opt for a vendor with an all-in-one, proprietary product. This vendor is nimble to engineer custom features and fixes as needed, however, the double-edged sword also limits their engineering capabilities to the size of their team. Conversely to that all-in-one model, some providers weave together third-party offerings. These providers must in turn wait and plan around the engineering roadmaps of supplier organizations, however, the engineering bench strength of combined third party tools are hard to beat. This creates broad support for maximum reliability and uptime. It is worth mentioning because you want to trust that your provider can be nimble and yet have the stamina and reinforcement to keep your data out of a bottleneck.
- Define specific objectives. If you have specific objectives in mind, you want to compare how prospective providers plan to affordably meet your needs. Examples include, migration projects, collections from legacy systems, tight government deadlines, or simply leveraging your internal tools. You will certainly see variations across hosting costs, analytics options, and project management hour estimates.
- Keep costs in mind. Remember to keep linear review costs in in mind, because each prospective provider approaches data reduction differently. If you have frequent internal investigations you will want a provider with stellar ECA capabilities, but you may have to bend on hosting fees. Alternately you will want excellent volume reduction and TAR expertise if you have tight deadlines or large matters, but you may have to bend on project management hours. If you handle part of your program from behind your firewall, you may want the provider that most seamlessly picks up where your tools stop, but enterprise-wide reporting across teams may become burdensome.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. It can be difficult to differentiate the benefits among the technology options when so few benchmarks are standard in the industry. As your ediscovery program evolves, each step should be optimized using specific technology for your needs. Ask prospective vendors the following questions to ensure they can speak to their experience with their chosen technology and how they will apply it to your data.
- What version of each tool do they chose to use and why?
- What have they learned about their weaknesses?
- How have they optimized?
- What are they building into their roadmap and why?
- How can workflows for your data be customized for maximum savings?
- Test their abilities. Innovative providers will be eager to share their product and service roadmaps with you to demonstrate their skill and ability. You want a provider who will also explore custom solutions to address unique problems and augment their tools to address your needs. Be sure to provide estimates of your data volumes and ensure your vendor has the throughput capability to service your projects while still meeting the dynamic data reduction results you feel are most competitive (more on that in another blog). They should be able to speak to each of these points with specific examples to assure you that they are experts in the tool(s) with fully vetted solutions to your projects.